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Canada: Beaten MTC guard says more staff needed.
Beaten guard says more staff needed at super jail
Kim Goggins/THE MIRROR
Published: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005

It's difficult for Dwight to remember exactly what happened on Dec. 17, 2003, after he was beaten by an inmate at the Central North Correctional Centre.
"I just turned slightly with my body to say (to the inmate), 'There's the door,' and when I did, I don't remember anything else for probably three or four minutes," said the correctional officer, hesitating slightly to gather his thoughts - a side effect from the severe beating he received.
"During that time, I was taking all kinds of hits to the body and the head. I was basically blacked out but standing up; I hadn't fallen to the ground. There was a point at which I came to. Part of me, almost a primal instinct type of thing, told me to stay up or you're going to die, and I thought I was having a massive heart attack."
According to Dwight, that day he was teamed up with a new female correctional officer on her first day of work in Unit 1, while a third officer was pulled off the unit to work elsewhere. Another officer was stationed inside the control pod.
While Dwight went into the unit alone to approach the inmate, who would not go into his cell as directed, his partner stayed outside the locked unit, as is correct procedure. But Dwight says there should have been more officers in the unit.
"There shouldn't have been just the two of us. There should have been probably four or five and this is the shortcomings of private prisons," said the 57 year old, who was a police officer for 34 years with Toronto Police Service and the OPP before coming to CNCC as a correctional officer.
"They've got to economize some way and there's only so many paper clips you can save. The only other area you can cut back on is either meals or the officers on duty."
He estimates it was almost five minutes before other officers were able to get to him. Still unable to work, his hands and body shake and he says it's hard to concentrate on simple things most people take for granted.
This week, he was in Toronto for tests to see if he has Parkinson's Disease, a potential side effect from the repeated blows to his head, he said.
It's incidents like this - and the stabbing of a correctional officer three times in the neck by an inmate several weeks ago - that union officials say prove higher staff levels and tighter security measures need to be in their new collective agreement. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2004.
"I'm a member of the health and safety committee and we have made attempts to get them to try and review that incident (assault on Dwight) to see where we can change our procedures to make it safer and nothing happened," said Sean Wilson, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union local 369 and chairperson of the bargaining team.
Prison officials say training is an important part of the operation to ensure safety and security of staff and inmates.
"Running a correctional facility is a very serious business," said Peter Mount, communication director. "Every opportunity is made to train employees."
"It's a big facility and we do have our share of incidents ... (but) we have incidents at all of our (public) facilities, too," said Julia Noonan, spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Correctional officers voted 95 per cent in favour of rejecting an offer by Management and Training Corporation Canada (MTCC), the Utah-based company that operates the private prison. More than 88 per cent of the correctional officers turned out to vote on July 21.
According to Peter Mount, CNCC communications director, the company offered a strong wage and benefit offer for consideration by correctional officers.
"An experienced correctional officer would make $60,000 plus shift premiums and benefits annually in the final year of the proposed four-year contract," stated the company in a press release.
While both sides agree on wages, it is working conditions, staffing levels and protections afforded to the officers' public-sector counterparts that have caused negotiations to break down.
"We have a sister facility in Lindsay that's identical to us and we are expected to go with less days off and we don't have the same protections afforded to us as far as legal protection," said Wilson.
"It's unsafe for both the staff and inmates and the general public. We have about 70 per cent of the staff that Lindsay has, and we have more inmates here on a daily basis than they do."
However, both prison and ministry officials say staffing levels have been reviewed by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to ensure a safe work environment. Noonan says she doubts the figure quoted by Wilson is accurate.
Unlike correctional officers in the Ontario Public Service who cannot strike because they are covered by the Crown Employee Collective Bargaining Act, which requires that a negotiated essential services agreement be in place prior to a labour disruption, CNCC officers can go on strike if they do not reach a collective agreement.
MTC and its employees are covered under the Labour Relations Act, which has no legislative requirement for an essential services agreement.
OPSEU communication officer Don Ford confirmed that OPSEU has requested a 'no board' - a report from the Ministry of Labour that starts the clock ticking toward a legal strike deadline within 17 days.
Last week, a trailer was parked outside the jail to act as strike headquarters.
"We're still hoping that between now and the strike deadline they are willing to go back to the table and talk and then we can get a deal that addresses our concerns," said Wilson.
"At the same time, we are trying to let them know we are serious and we're not going to back down from our demands and we hope they understand that."

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